Coming up with the perfect give idea can be difficult, but hopefully a few of these ideas will give you a bit of inspiration. I’ve listed them in order of approximate cost, so hopefully there’s an idea in everyone’s price range.
iTunes Gift Cards
If you’re not sitting in a premium cabin, flights can be boring, as can train rides, bus rides, and idle time at the terminal. A gift card can be used on new songs to listen to, a movie rental, digital magazines, or a new app (anything from Angry Birds to learning a language). If the recipient isn’t into Apple products, an Amazon card is just as universal. You’ll find low-denomination gift cards in stores, with some higher amounts available online at the Apple store.
When you stay put at a hotel for a week and have time to settle in, having an organized suitcase isn’t a huge issue. However, if you tend to move around every night and won’t bother unpacking, knowing where everything is can be a time-saver (and stress-saver). There’s a million ways to use packing cubes, whether it’s keeping shirts in one cube and pants in another, your daughter’s things in pink cubes and your son’s in blue, or putting everything you need for Monday in one cube so you can pull out as few things as necessary while you try to get ready and check out of the hotel before breakfast. The perfect gift would come in an assortment of sizes (I tend to pack in small, medium, and slim and throw in an empty large one to become a dirty laundry bag).
For someone who’s traveling all the time, it can be hard enough to keep the time straight, let alone wake up on time when you’ve just crossed seven time zones. Maybe I’m behind the times, but I don’t travel with my cell phone internationally, so a separate alarm clock is a necessity. This particular model has 18 locations with preset times, so no worrying about resetting it as you fly from New York to Frankfurt to Bangkok. As a bonus, it also works as a flashlight – perfect for when you’re trying to find something in the middle of the night without waking your partner up.
The New York Times 36 Hours
I don’t understand mileage running at all because if I flew across the country (or halfway around the world, for that matter), I’d want to leave the airport and explore. Inspire someone to turn those mileage runs into mini-vacations even if their time is limited. Each featured destination includes a suggested 36-hour itinerary, perfect for a weekend getaway even if it’s not quite as off-the-beaten path as Rapid Travel Chai gets. There are editions for the USA/Canada and Europe, together offering options for 275 of your next mileage runs.
Kindles and other e-readers are so cheap these days that it doesn’t really make a lot of sense to not have one! A Kindle is a great gift for travelers since they weigh very little yet have more than double the battery length of most tablets. An iPad would need to be charged partway through that flight to Asia, but a Kindle will entertain a traveler for the entire flight…and then some. They are also handy for keeping travel guides with you or even documents containing your reservation numbers, addresses for postcards, and any information you may want handy in case of an emergency. Not bad for $69.
Yes, just about everyone already owns a digital camera these days, but underwater digital cameras are still a fun indulgence. I have a Kodak Kodak EasyShare Sport C123 which has withstood the test of time (and water). While it won’t survive the depths required by scuba divers, it’s on sale frequently for under $100 and takes great pictures while snorkeling (like the one I took on the left). It’s also great for those times when you think a camera won’t be submerged yet will need to be waterproof, perfect to toss in your beach bag, when white-water rafting, or sitting in the splash zone at Sea World.
Travelers who like to spend time watching wildlife need a good set of binoculars. I’ve used mine on whale watches in Maine, bus rides through Denali National Park, and hikes throughout Colorado and can’t imagine traveling without them anymore, even if it’s only to pull them out for stargazing at night. I have Nikon Trailblazers, a good balance between quality and cost, and think they’re almost as good as my husband’s much pricier pair. A word to the wise: binoculars can be shared, but no one wants to. Buy two pairs if need be.
Need more ideas? Check out last year’s gift guide as well.